Apocalyptic HARING LEAR

from left: Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear) chides Abner Delina Jr (Cordelia). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

from left: Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear) chides Abner Delina Jr (Cordelia). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Written and photographed

By Jude Bautista

The set has a dark ominous look and feel, its more sparse than elaborate. Somehow it achieves the tragic theme of Lear. Hundreds of grey rags, cloths are hung from the ceiling. Behind it row upon row of white fluorescent lamps, slanted, stacked vertically. Later on the fluorescent lights flicker and spark one after the other, successfully simulating lightning in a storm sequence. Costumes are more often than not black and layered, sometimes armored reminiscent of science fiction film DUNE. The make up is a combination of Chinese Opera and Darth Maul of Star wars Episode 1-Phantom Menace.

The apocalyptic set of HARING LEAR. Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

The apocalyptic set of HARING LEAR. Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Award winning Production Designer Gino Gonzales created a lot of the details that reinforce the concept of post nuclear Philippines in director Nonon Padilla’s mind. In the opening scene, the whole set is draped by a thin curtain in the front and to the sides. The curtains gave it a dreamy if not illusory dimension.

Through the curtain (right) George de Jesus III (Regan) proclaims her loyalty and love for her father Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Through the curtain (right) George de Jesus III (Regan) proclaims her loyalty and love for her father Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

As a photographer I was both horrified and puzzled, will the whole play be like this? If so how would I be able to shoot them competently if I have to shoot through a hazy curtain? The story unfolds; an authoritative Haring Lear (Bernardo Bernardo) bequeaths his land to eldest daughter Goneril (Buddy Caramat) as he does so, the right curtain falls. Lear then bequeaths lands to his other daughter Regan (George De Jesus III), the left curtain falls. The third one also falls until the set is free of the hazy curtain. I realized then this is not like any stage play I have seen or will see.

Through the curtain George de Jesus III (Regan) is given lands and is draped with the curtain symbolizing her inheritance. Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Through the curtain George de Jesus III (Regan) is given lands and is draped with the curtain symbolizing her inheritance. Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Director Nonon Padilla explains, “The curtains, I wanted to use it as a symbol of the kingdom being torn apart or cut up into 3 pieces. In the end with the national anthem I don’t know if people will understand that’s Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.” The Filipino theme does not end with symbolism. National artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera was tapped by Nonon to translate Shakespeare’s famous work, “Yes, I specifically asked Bien to translate the play. You know KING LEAR was one of the few plays Rolando Tinio was not able to translate. Bien is a good friend and he honored me by translating the play.”

Rhenwyn Gabalonzo (Edmundo); Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Rhenwyn Gabalonzo (Edmundo); Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

As celebrated a playwright as Shakespeare is, Filipino makes his work more accessible to more people here. For me the Filipino version is far more relatable and moving. Both the historic bard and our language are benefitted. The lyricism of our language on the other hand is exemplified through Shakespeare’s poetic dialogue.

foreground from left: Death is unmasked as Roi Calilong with Lambert de Jesus (Kent). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

foreground from left: Death is unmasked as Roi Calilong with Lambert de Jesus (Kent). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

In one scene Haring Lear curses the ingratitude of Goneril: “Makinig ka kalikasan. Ipasok sa kanyang sinapupunan ang pagkabaog! Tuyuin ang organong nagpaparami at sa kanyang katawan ang bata ay gumuho. Lahat ng parusa sa isang ina ng pagkamuhi. Sa ganitong paraan mararanasan ng anak ko na parang tinuklaw ng ahas ang isang magulang na nagkaroon ng anak na walang utang na loob!”

Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear); Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear); Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Comparing to the original: Hear, nature, hear…Into her womb convey sterility! Dry up in her the organs of increase; And from her derogate body never spring a babe to honour her! If she must teem, create her child of spleen; that it may live, and be a thwart disnatured torment to her! …Turn all her mother’s pains and benefits to laughter and contempt; that she may feel how sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!

From the written word of Shakespeare to Lumbera’s translation, which we read above is again an entirely different experience from Bernardo Bernardo’s powerful, authoritative interpretation on stage.

Buddy Caramat (Goneril); Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Buddy Caramat (Goneril); Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Buddy Camarat’s (Goneril) delivery of giving a pregnant pause in English, “Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;…As much as child e’er loved, or father found; A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable; Beyond all manner of so much I love you.” It has to be the weirdest, sickest, saddest way I’ve heard those three words ever said and yet in their world it works. Those are the words that Lear is looking for. It’s a performance that you have to experience for one to understand and appreciate. That slowness, the emphasis they are all necessary on stage. George De Jesus III’s delivery as Regan is just as haunting.

from left: Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear) and George de Jesus III (Regan). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

from left: Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear) and George de Jesus III (Regan). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Padilla could have let the dialogue be all-Filipino and be done with it and yet he didn’t. His out of the box approach made him combine Filipino with English for some characters at certain lines. According to him this was done in order to illustrate the haughtiness of the royals and in turn how some servants adopt the bad habits of their masters.

from left: Lambert de Jesus (Kent) threatens Roi Calilong (Oswaldo). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

from left: Lambert de Jesus (Kent) threatens Roi Calilong (Oswaldo). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

In spite of the futuristic setting, Padilla maintained the Shakespearean tradition of an all male cast, “I wanted to experiment with it. The female roles here are pretty horrible. If you cast pretty actresses it robs or veer attention away from the horror and the drama. But if you use men, they act not like transvestites. They’re really just actors playing women. It becomes clearer to me.”

from right: Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear) & Abner Delina Jr (Cordelia/Lakayo). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

from right: Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear) & Abner Delina Jr (Cordelia/Lakayo). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear); Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear); Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Bernardo Bernardo while being old enough to play the role is still quite strong to withstand its rigors; “His age he’s already 70. He’s still healthy enough to take the blows in the production and to risk pneumonia during the rain scene. It’s still appropriate and perfect for him.” Along with Bernardo, a talented cast willing to shave their heads to simulate radiation poisoning turning into cancer. HARING LEAR is definitely a creative triumph one has to see.

from left: George De Jesus (Regan) & Jeff Hernandez (Duke ng Cornualles) interrogate Garry Lim (Gloster)- in stocks. Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

from left: George De Jesus (Regan) & Jeff Hernandez (Duke ng Cornualles) interrogate Garry Lim (Gloster)- in stocks. Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Finale from left: Nico Dans (Edgardo), Rhenwyn Gabalonzo (Edmundo), Garry Lim (Gloster), McDonnel Bolanos (Hari ng Francia), Jason Barcial (Duke ng Burgonia), Buddy Caramat (Goneril), Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear), Abner Delina Jr (Cordelia/Lakayo), Renante Bustamante (Duke ng Albanya), Jeff Hernandez (Duke ng Cornualles), George de Jesus III (Regan), Lambert de Jesus (Kent), Jess Evardone (Matandang Lalaki/Duktor) and Roi Calilong (Oswaldo). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Finale from left: Nico Dans (Edgardo), Rhenwyn Gabalonzo (Edmundo), Garry Lim (Gloster), McDonnel Bolanos (Hari ng Francia), Jason Barcial (Duke ng Burgonia), Buddy Caramat (Goneril), Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear), Abner Delina Jr (Cordelia/Lakayo), Renante Bustamante (Duke ng Albanya), Jeff Hernandez (Duke ng Cornualles), George de Jesus III (Regan), Lambert de Jesus (Kent), Jess Evardone (Matandang Lalaki/Duktor) and Roi Calilong (Oswaldo). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

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from right: Renante Bustamante (Duke ng Albanya) lambasts Buddy Caramat (Goneril) strung out on Heroin. Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

from right: Renante Bustamante (Duke ng Albanya) lambasts Buddy Caramat (Goneril) strung out on Heroin. Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Renante Bustamante (Duke ng Albanya). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Renante Bustamante (Duke ng Albanya). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

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foreground Abner Delina Jr (Cordelia) is denied her inheritance in front of her sisters draped from left George de Jesus III (Regan) and Buddy Caramat (Goneril). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

foreground Abner Delina Jr (Cordelia) is denied her inheritance in front of her sisters draped from left George de Jesus III (Regan) and Buddy Caramat (Goneril). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

from left: Jeff Hernandez (Duke ng Cornualles) and Lambert de Jesus (Kent). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

from left: Jeff Hernandez (Duke ng Cornualles) and Lambert de Jesus (Kent). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

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George de Jesus III (Regan); Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

George de Jesus III (Regan); Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

McDonnel Bolanos (Sundalo) pleads in behalf of Cordelia to Haring Lear (Bernardo Bernardo). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

McDonnel Bolanos (Sundalo) pleads in behalf of Cordelia to Haring Lear (Bernardo Bernardo). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

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Rhenwyn Gabalonzo (Edmundo) speaks of his treachery. Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Rhenwyn Gabalonzo (Edmundo) speaks of his treachery. Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

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George de Jesus III (Regan); Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

George de Jesus III (Regan); Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear); Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear); Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

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Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear) listens to Jason Barcial (Duke Ng Burgonia). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear) listens to Jason Barcial (Duke Ng Burgonia). Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

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Rhenwyn Gabalonzo (Edmundo); Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Rhenwyn Gabalonzo (Edmundo); Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

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Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear); Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

Bernardo Bernardo (Haring Lear); Studio Connection’s HARING LEAR can be seen at the CSB SDA Theater from February 27 to March 8, 2015. HARING LEAR is also part of the FRINGE MANILA Multi arts festival. Photo by Jude Bautista

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